Skip to main content

Full text of "Mexican Projects of the Confederates"

See other formats


Early Journal Content on JSTOR, Free to Anyone in the World 

This article is one of nearly 500,000 scholarly works digitized and made freely available to everyone in 
the world by JSTOR. 

Known as the Early Journal Content, this set of works include research articles, news, letters, and other 
writings published in more than 200 of the oldest leading academic journals. The works date from the 
mid-seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. 

We encourage people to read and share the Early Journal Content openly and to tell others that this 
resource exists. People may post this content online or redistribute in any way for non-commercial 

Read more about Early Journal Content at 
journal-content . 

JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people 
discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching 
platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit 
organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please 




Vol. XXII APRIL, 1919 No 4. 

The publication committee and the editors disclaim responsibility for views expressed bp 
contributors to The Quarterly 



Throughout the Civil War there was manifested a desire on the 
part of the Confederate government to form a close alliance with 
its neighbor on the South. Overtures were made not only to the 
Constitutionalists under Juarez and to Maximilian, but also to 
the prominent Mexican leaders of the northern frontier. The 
ultimate absorption of a portion of Mexican territory may have 
been contemplated. At any rate, the agent of the Juarez govern- 
ment at Washington, anticipating this eventually, expressed a de- 
sire to negotiate with the United States a treaty guaranteeing the 
Mexican Republic. It is probable, however, that the more imme- 
diate interest of the South resulted from the fact that Mexico not 
only served as a medium through which passed the Confederate 
European trade, but also furnished a good market for the sale of 
cotton and the purchase of arms, munitions, and other supplies. 
Later, as the Southern cause became more and more hopeless, a 
new aspect was introduced by discontented Confederates turning 
toward Mexico in search of employment and new homes. The 
present article aspires only to give a brief general sketch of these 
Mexican relations in the hope that the field thus opened may in 
the future prove interesting and profitable. 

^he writer wishes to acknowledge valuable suggestions made by Dr. 
Herbert E. Bolton in the preparation of this paper. 

292 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 

I. Relations with the Juarez Government 

The Mission of Pickett. — In a dispatch dated May 17, 1861, 
Robert Toombs, the Confederate Secretary of State, instructed J. 
T. Pickett to proceed to Mexico in order to sound the members 
of the Juarez administration on the subject of an alliance for the 
purpose of resisting the enemies of both governments. Although 
he was not at that time to demand recognition, he was to assure 
them, in case he found them favorably disposed, of the readiness 
of his government to conclude a "treaty of amity, commerce, and 
navigation with that Eepublic on terms equally advantageous to 
both countries." Pickett was instructed, further, to feel the pulse 
of the merchants and ship owners on the subject of privateering 
and to grant letters of marque and reprisal to those desiring to 
obtain such; to remind Mexico of the long standing friendship of 
the Southern statesmen and diplomatists; and to express his con- 
fident anticipation that the Mexican authorities would grant to 
armed vessels sailing under the flag of the Confederate govern- 
ment the right to enter the ports of Mexico with such prizes as 
they were able to capture on the high seas. 2 

Pickett's conduct in Mexico was of a piece with that of the 
Southern leaders who had preceded him. 3 Somewhat lacking both 
in tact and dignity, he was vigorous and pugnacious. Upon land- 
ing at Vera Cruz, he took steps to open negotiations with the gov- 
ernor of that State, suggesting that it might desire again to as- 
sert its independence. On July 28, he wrote from Mexico City 
that he had established friendly and confidential relations with 
the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The greater part of his plan 
would have been accomplished, he thought, had it not been for the 
increasing disturbance in the internal affairs of the country. 4 
Pickett probably had not yet learned of the decree of the Mexican 
Congress granting the request of the North for the privilege of 
passing troops across Mexico to attack the Confederates in 
Arizona. 5 

2 J. D. Richardson, Messages and papers of the Confederacy (Nashville, 
1905), II, 20-26. 

3 Butler, Letcher, and ForsytJi, for instance. 

4 J. M. Callahan, The diplomatic history of the Southern Confederacy, 
72 ; .T. D. Richardson, Messages and papers of the Confederacy, II, 49. 

'House Executive Doc. 1, 39th Cong., 1st sess., 538-542. 

Mexican Projects of the Confederates 293 

When he received this news he said privately that if Mexico did 
not annul this decree, she would lose Tamaulipas in sixty days, 
while he officially informed the government that its action would 
probably lead the Confederate forces to invade the North Mexican 
States. On October 29, he informed Toombs that a treaty was 
pending between Juarez and the United States which "probably 
had for its basis the hypothecation of Mexican lands and the es- 
tablishment of a line of United States military posts through 
Mexican territory," and asked whether it would not be wise under 
the circumstances to occupy Monterey with the purpose of perma- 
nently holding the adjacent region. He rejoiced, moreover, in the 
opportunity which the affair afforded for the Confederate States 
speedily to fulfill "a portion of that inevitable destiny which im- 
pels them southward." 6 The remainder of Pickett's stay was 
characterized by expressions of a similar nature, his pugnacity 
getting him into the guard house upon one occasion. In the in- 
terval between threats, he proposed the recession of California and 
New Mexico in return for a treaty of free trade between the Con- 
federacy and Mexico. Near the close of the year he was requested 
by his government to return to Richmond. 7 

Pickett's mission, therefore, revealed the fact that the Confed- 
eracy could expect little encouragement from the Juarez govern- 
ment. It tended to show, moreover, that the South still clung in 
a measure to the idea of expansion, — a fact which the North never 
tired of using against her. Had the Juarez administration been 
well disposed towards the Confederates, it could not have rendered 
any very great service; for it was throughout the period rather a 
flying squadron than a governing body. 8 So far as has been as- 
certained, however, the members of that administration evinced 
little friendliness toward the Confederacy, but showed rather a 
disposition to play into the hands of the United States, which 
offered numerous inducements to secure their friendship. 9 Ham- 
ilton P. Bee, a citizen of Texas and well informed on the Mexican 
situation, declared in November, 1863, that owing to the influence 

'Callahan, op. cit., 73. 

UUd., 75. 

^Bancroft, Mexico, VI, 54-234. 

The subject of the relations of the United States and Juarez will fur- 
nish ample material for another paper. 

294 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 

of Thomas Corwin, the United States Minister, the tone of the 
Juarez government had been hostile to the Southern cause, and 
various annoying and injurious measures had been initiated. They 
had "decreed martial law on their frontiers, forbid the export or 
import of any article whatsoever from Texas, and closed their 
custom-houses." 10 

Southern Desire for Expansion. — How far the North was justi- 
fied in its contention that expansion was the accepted policy of 
the Confederacy it is difficult to say. The Democratic party, 
which since the days of Polk had been the expansionist party, 
numbered before the realignment which immediately preceded the 
outbreak of the Civil War a large southern following. In 1861, 
after secession had been completed, M. Romero, the Mexican Min- 
ister at Washington, expressed alarm at the declarations of cer- 
tain Southern statesmen and publications regarding the future 
absorption of Mexico. 11 In January, 1862, James Eeily, a Con- 
federate army official of some prominence, wrote no less a digni- 
tary than John H. Eeagan that his cause had warm and influen- 
tial friends in Chihuahua and that this "rich and glorious neigh- 
bor" would "improve by being under the Confederate flag." He 
then added, 

We must have Sonora. and Chihuahua. . . . With Sonora and 
Chihuahua we gain Southern [Lower] California, and by a rail- 
road to Guaymas render our State of Texas the great highway of 
nations. You are at liberty to lay this note, if you see fit, before 
President Davis. 12 

The North seemed to consider these designs on the part of the 
rebels a very real danger. On August 28, 1861, Corwin wrote 
Seward about Picketfs boast concerning the designs of the Con- 
federate States upon Northern Mexico. He said it was no doubt 
their purpose to seize Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Coahuila, Chi- 
huahua, and Sonora — "indeed . . . the entire Tierra Caliente 
of Mexico. . . ." In view of this possibility Corwin advised 
that a force raised in California and Oregon be sent from Guay- 
mas through Sonora to attack the rebels in New Mexico and Ari- 

"Official Records, I, XV, 881-882. 

"House Executive Doc. 1, Part III, 39th Cong., 1st sess., 535-537. 

"Official Records, I, L, i, 825-826. 

Mexican Projects of the Confederates 295 

zona. 18 Brigadier-General George Wright of California was 
alarmed by reports of a similar nature, and in October, 1861, 
asked permission from Assistant Adjutant-General, Townsend, to 
occupy Sonora. He declared that such a step was dictated by 
military necessity and that it would not only meet with the ap- 
proval of Governor Pesqueira, but would be "hailed with joy" by 
the "entire population." 14 

By the latter part of September, 1862, the Federal expedition 
from Southern California, which had begun operations in April, 
reached the Rio Grande. 18 Advancing from the opposite side, 
United States forces took Brownsville in November of the follow- 
ing year. 16 These movements, coupled with the defeat of Vicks- 
burg and other losses, greatly weakened the Confederacy and 
diminished their chances of success in whatever Mexican con- 
quests they may have entertained. But the North continued, nev- 
ertheless, to have considerable anxiety regarding complications 
which might arise on the southern frontier. Two interesting 
schemes illustrate this anxiety, and at the same time probably show 
that the North overestimated the force of the filibustering spirit 
in the South. 

The Blair Project. — On December 28, 1864, Francis P. Blair 
of Maryland received from President Lincoln a pass through the 
lines of the Union army to go South and return. On January 12, 
he arrived at Eichmond where he had a conference with Jefferson 
Davis. Lincoln had permitted him to go in order to learn the 
attitude of the Confederacy towards proposals of peace, but his 
mission was said to be unofficial. His main proposition was the 
cessation of hostilities and the union of military forces for the 
purpose of maintaining the Monroe Doctrine. Blair urged that 
slavery, so productive of woe, was "admitted on all sides to be 
doomed" and that, since Napoleon clearly intended to conquer this 
continent, any further hostilities toward the Union became a war 
in support of monarchy for which' the French ruler stood. The 
present suicidal war was most pleasing to the Emperor and, if 
continued, would enable him to realize his designs. Davis was 

a Ibid., loc. cit., 626-627. 

"Ibid., 690-691. 

"Ibid., 88-145. 

"Ibid., I, XXVI, i, 397-399. 

296 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 

the only person whose "fiat could deliver his country from the 
bloody agony now covering it in mourning." What if an armis- 
tice could be entered into — an armistice the secret preliminaries 
of which might enable Davis to "transfer such portions of his 
army as he deemed proper to the banks of the Rio Grande ?" Here 
they could form a junction with the Liberalists under Juarez, who 
no doubt would devolve all the power he could on Davis, a dic- 
tatorship if necessary. If they were needed, Northern forces could 
join the enterprise and Davis, having driven out the Bonaparte- 
Hapsburg dynasty and allied his name with those of "Washington 
and Jackson as defender of the liberty of the country," could 
mould the Mexican States so that subsequently they could be ad- 
admitted into the Union. 

Thus the peace proposals of Blair amounted to a joint filibus- 
tering undertaking by which the United States' possessions were 
to be extended to the Isthmus of Darien. Davis, moved by feel- 
ings of regard resulting from former kindnesses on the part of the 
Blair family, by a knowledge that alliance with Napoleon was now 
hopeless, and by a feeling of patriotism, gave close attention to 
the proposal and displayed a certain amount of sympathy with it. 
"But," in the words of Nicolay and Hay, "the government coun- 
cils at Washington were not ruled by the spirit of political ad- 
venture. . . . Lincoln had a loftier conception of patriotic 
duty and a higher ideal of national ethics" and the affair was 
dropped. 17 

The Proposal of Gen. Lew Wallace. — Before the results of the 
Blair project had become known, the active mind of another ven- 
turesome spirit had conceived yet another plan. On January 14, 
1865, Lew Wallace wrote Grant that he had reliable information 
to the effect that the Confederates of the Trans-Mississippi De- 
partment would come to terms with the North in order to make 
a joint attack upon the French in Mexico. While Blair was in 
Richmond he (Wallace) desired permission to proceed to Brazos 
Santiago, and upon his own authority to invite the commandant 
of Brownsville to an interview on the old battlefield of Palo Alto. 
There he would urge the adoption of the Juarez flag and the in- 

"Nicolay and Hay, "Abraham Lincoln," in Century Magazine, new 
series, XVT, 838-844; see also, Jefferson Davis, The rise and fall of the 
confederate government (New York, 1881), I, 614-617. 

Mexican Projects of the Confederates 297 

vasion of Mexico as the basis of a compromise. Wallace urged 
that the success of his scheme would stagger the rebellion and de- 
clared that he would wager a month's pay that he would win and 
that "Blair and Company" would lose. 

Eight days later, Wallace was instructed to visit the Eio Grande 
and Western Texas on a "tour of inspection." On March 11 and 
12 he had an interview with the Confederate commanders, James 
E. Slaughter and John S. Ford,, the nature of which he reported 
to Grant on March 14. Wallace was convinced that Slaughter and 
Ford had entered the rebellion reluctantly and that they were now 
"anxious to find some ground upon which they could honorably 
get from under what they admitted to be a failing Confederacy." 
At their request propositions for the cessation of hostilities were 
presented. These met their approval, and Ford agreed to carry 
them in person to Major-General J. G. Walker, who in turn was 
to forward them to E. "Kirby Smith, Commander-in-Chief of the 
department. Slaughter and Ford, moreover, "entered heartily 
into the Mexican project," although the latter, judging from 
newspaper articles written by members of Smith's staff and favor- 
ing Imperial annexation, expressed misgivings regarding the atti- 
tude which would be assumed by that officer. 

With high hopes regarding the outcome of his mission, Wallace 
proceeded to Galveston to await the responses of Walker and 
Smith. When, on April 1, Walker's reply came, it must have oc- 
casioned no little shock. The peace overtures were flatly and some- 
what impolitely refused. After declaring the loyalty of the States 
of the Trans-Mississippi Department to the Confederacy, he added : 

It would be folly in me to pretend that we are not tired of a 
war that has sown sorrow and desolation over our land; but we 
will accept no other than an honorable peace. With 300,000 men 
yet in the field, we would be the most abject of mankind if we 
should now basely yield all that we have been contending for dur- 
ing the last four years, namely, nationality and the rights of self- 
government. With the blessings of God we will yet achieve these, 
and extort from your government all that we ask. . . . 

From Galveston Wallace proceeded to New Orleans, and, after 
making arrangements for direct communications with Smith and 
dispatching an agent to Ford and Slaughter in order to induce 
them to act independently, he set out for Baltimore. From the 

298 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 

latter place he reported that Walker was not in harmony with 
Smith and that consequently he would probably be relieved by 
Magruder, that Smith would come to terms provided he was not 
"too far committed to Maximilian, and that in the event . . . 
Davis and Smith attempted coalition with or annexation to the 
new empire of Mexico" they would be "resisted by the rebel sol- 
diers themselves." 

At last, on May 16, 1865, Wallace seems to have despaired of 
the success of his scheme. Writing from Washington on that date, 
he expressed his conviction that a secret alliance existed between 
the Texan Confederates and the Mexican Imperialists, — an alli- 
ance "contemplating ultimate annexation of Texas and mutual 
support, or the support without the annexation." 18 

An agreement probably of such a nature as Wallace supposed 
seems actually to have been considered, but other matters must be 
dealt with before we take up this thread of the story. 

//. The Confederacy and the North Mexican States 

When it became obviously useless to expect encouragement from 
Juarez, Confederate leaders looked elsewhere for aid. The three 
considerations which they desired most to obtain were arms and 
supplies, the rendition of criminals and deserters, and the nullifi- 
cation of the privilege of the United States to transport troops 
over Mexican territory. Since the bonds of the Mexican Confed- 
eration were extremely weak, they pursued the course which im- 
mediately recommended itself. 

Projected Alliance with Vidaurri. — The most influential man 
in the Northern States of Mexico was Santiago Vidaurri. He had 
united Coahuila and Nuevo Leon under his sway, and the weak- 
ness of the Mexican Central government, together with his great 
popularity, enabled him to wield great influence in his own and 
neighboring states. 19 He was, in 1861, nominally a supporter of 
Juarez, but being ambitious, he saw in an alliance with the South- 
erners a chance to increase his fame and probably his wealth. 
Assurances of his friendly disposition toward the Confederacy 
had reached President Davis during the summer, and the latter, 

"Official Records, I, XLVTTT, i, 201, 512, 1275-1278, ii, 457-458. 
"Bancroft, History of MrHco, V, 698, 705, 733, 747. 

Mexican Projects of the Confederates 299 

desirous of obtaining his help, sent J. A. Quintero to Monterey in 
September. In a letter dated the third of that month Quintero 
was instructed to seek friendly relations with the GoTernor of 
Nuevo Leon; to express the gratification of the President upon 
learning of the friendship of that and adjacent Mexican States; 
to inquire as to the possibility of obtaining arms and ammunition; 
and to seek to induce Vidaurri to interfere in the proposed trans- 
portation of the United States munitions and troops across Mexi- 
can territory. Quintero was not, however, to take any steps, for 
the time being, with regard to the proposed union of the Confed- 
erate States with the provinces of Northern Mexico. 20 

Upon his arrival at Monterey, the agent of the South was cor- 
dially received. He had little trouble in obtaining from Vidaurri 
the promise that he would not only protest against and oppose the 
passage of United States troops through Nuevo Le6n and Coa- 
huila, but that he would address communications to the governors 
of other frontier Mexican States urging them to take the same 
action. 21 During the next three years Quintero resided at the 
Nuevo Leon capital where he was permitted to purchase lead and 
saltpeter for the Confederates and to lend his assistance to the 
contraband trade between the rebel and North Mexican States in 
general. 22 

Meanwhile, Vidaurri was growing more and more hostile toward 
the Juarez government. Having made a complete break by the 
spring of 1864, he was soon forced to flee to Texas. There Gen- 
eral Magruder of the Confederate army received him with open 
arms and the two apparently entered into plans looking towards 
an alliance, between the Confederacy and the monarchical forces of 
Mexico. 23 It was not long thereafter until Vidaurri's friendship 
for the Imperialists led him to their capital where he was made 
Counsellor of State. In April, 1865, however, he visited Mon- 
terey, whence he wrote the Confederate commander of Brownsville 
that he had much information which he could not safely "submit 
to writing." 24 

^Richardson, op. tit., II, 77-81. 
"Ihid., II, 151. 

™U. S. Docs., Mexican Affairs, 1865, 396. 

™House Ex. Doc, 1, 39th Cong., 1st sess., 497-498; Bancroft, op. cit., 
VI, 129-131. 

M House Ex. Doc, 1, 39th Cong., 1st sess., 509. 

300 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 

Overtures to Terrazas of Chihualiva and Pesqueira of Sonora. — 
The relations of the Confederates with Vidaurri were the most 
noteworthy and profitable of any of their attempts in the frontier 
states. The Confederate military leaders, and not the Secretary 
of State, negotiated with the other North Mexican governors. To 
Hamilton P. Bee was given the task of preserving friendly rela- 
tions with the executives which followed each other in quick suc- 
cession in Tamaulipas. Brigadier-General H. H. Sibley of New 
Mexico made appeals to Terrazas of Chihuahua and to Pesqueira 
of Sonora. 

Sibley sent out as his agent Colonel James Beily, who with vir- 
tually the same instructions proceeded first to Chihuahua, and 
then to Sonora. The great hospitality which he received upon his 
arrival at Chihuahua City led him to assume that his government 
had been recognized, and so he informed Sibley, congratulating 
him on "having been instrumental in obtaining the first official 
recognition by a. foreign government of the Confederate States of 
America." Beily delivered a letter which Sibley had directed to 
Terrazas and, having received one in reply, he set out upon his 
return journey to Fort Bliss. 

Sibley's letter has not been found, but from the response of 
Terrazas it may be gathered that the Confederate commander 
asked for favorable trade concessions, for an agreement allowing 
mutual crossing of the border in pursuit of Indians, and for op- 
position on the part of the Chihuahua governor to the transporta- 
tion of United States troops across his state. The second pro- 
posal was politely declined; the first Terrazas promised gladly to 
grant; with reference to the third, he declared in his communi- 
cation to Sibley that he would take orders from the Supreme Con- 
gress and not Juarez, but Beily said he told him personally he 
would not allow United States troops to cross over his territory, 
even if Congress should demand it. 28 

Beily had set out on his mission to Chihuahua in the early part 
of January, 1863. Before the close of the month he had returned. 
In writing John H. Beagan regarding the matter, he declared 
enthusiastically that he had completed the entire mission in twen- 
ty-one days. 28 

"Official Records, I, IV, 167-174. 
"fbid., I, L, i, 825-826. 

Mexican Projects of the Confederates 301 

March 14 found him in Hermosillo, whither he had come on 
his journey to Sonora. Prom this place he addressed a communi- 
cation to Governor Pesqueira who happened to be there at the 
time, asking him the favor of a personal interview. He also trans- 
mitted to the governor a letter from Brigadier-General Sibley, in 
which that officer made inquiries regarding reports to the effect 
that the Central Government of Mexico had conceded to the United 
States certain privileges regarding the transportation of troops 
and munitions of war across Mexican territory; proposed that the 
forces of Sonora and the Confederacy co-operate in the pursuit of 
marauding Indians ; and asked the privilege of establishing a depot 
in the port of Guaymas, and of transit from thence through the 
territory of Sonora. 

Three days later Eeily received a reply to his own note as well 
as to the letter of Sibley, and before setting out for his command, 
he apparently boasted that he had obtained favorable concessions. 
In a letter addressed to the Federal Commander George Wright, 
on August 29, 1862, Pesqueira said, however, that he had man- 
aged Reily with considerable precaution but had promised him 
nothing, and assured Wright that a "step" through Sonora "by 
any force from the South under any pretext whatsoever" would be 
considered "an invasion by force of arms." 27 It is likely true 
that Pesqueira, finding himself between two rather formidable dan- 
gers, sought to conciliate both parties. 28 

Had Pesqueira and Terrazas been never so friendly to the Con- 
federates they would perhaps have found it rather difficult to ex- 
tend them any effective aid, for the Federal officers of California, 
who had kept a close watch on Sonora since the very outbreak 
of the war, were, after their occupation of New Mexico and north- 
western Texas, in a position enabling them to keep the Confed- 
erate schemers under close surveillance. Carlton addressed a let- 
ter to each of these dignitaries expressing his unbounded confi- 
dence in their disinclination to help those who were defending a 
cause condemned by all Christian nations, and although J. E. West 
reported in December, 1862, that the Confederates "plotted with 
impunity" in El Paso [Ciudad Juarez] and other sections of Chi- 
huahua, less than a year later the Federal agent in Chihuahua 

"Ibid., I, L, ii, 93. 

m /6m/., I, L, i, 988-992.. 1030. 

302 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 

City declared that reports of powder leaving the State for the 
rebels originated in malice and were emphatically false. 29 Trade 
in other articles than arms and ammunition did continue, how- 
ever. 30 

Relations with Tamaulipas. — Free and friendly intercourse with 
the State of Tamaulipas was very important to the Confederacy, 
because the Port of Matamoras furnished the best, and almost the 
only, means of communication with the outside world. Mata- 
moras was to the South what New York was to the Worth. 31 
Arms, ammunition, and supplies of every description from Europe 
were landed here, and then conveyed across the Eio Grande. 
Moreover, a small quantity of supplies could be purchased from 
the population of the State, and it was found convenient to con- 
vey goods bought from the district further north down the right 
bank of the Rio Bravo to Fort Brown. To handle this impor- 
tant and somewhat delicate situation, therefore, a man of consid- 
erable tact and knowledge of Mexican character was needed, and 
Hamilton P. Bee was chosen for the task. It is not the purpose 
of this monograph to enter into a detailed discussion of the quan- 
tity and value of the trade passing through this region, but rather 
to show how Confederate-Mexican relations affected it. 

Before Bee assumed command of the "Sub-Military District 
of the Eio Grande" in April, 1862, Colonel John S. Ford and 
Lieutenant-Colonel A. Buchel had already made some efforts. At 
the very outset, they found matters complicated by contending 
chieftains in the State. P. N. Luckett, who as a member of the 
Vigilance Committee of Texas reported on the Bio Grande situa- 
tion at the close of 1861, declared that the hostile forces in 
Tamaulipas were seizing, confiscating, and consuming nearly 
everything so that it was very difficult for the Confederate troops 
stationed at Fort Brown to get supplies. 32 A year later, Buchel 
reported to his superior officer that Albino Lopez, at that time 
Governor of the State, had refused to allow the Confederate agent 
to pass corn purchased in Nuevo Leon through this territory. 
February 25, 1863, Bee said that he feared a decree of non-inter- 

"Ibid., I, XXVI, i, 919, I, L, ii, 245. 

"Ibid., I, L, ii, 425-426. 

"Ibid., I, XLVIII, i, 512-513. 

"Ibid., I, IV, 97, 149-150, 152-153, 165. 

Mexican Projects of the Confederates 303 

course from the City of Mexico; but he so managed affairs that 
he was able to report in the early part of the following month 
that the "decree prohibiting the export of goods from Mexico to 
Texas is not enforced on this line." After the Northern forces 
took Brownsville, however, they exerted such influence upon the 
population of Tamaulipas that communication down the right 
bank of the river was extremely risky for the Confederates. 33 

Indeed, from the very beginning Federal agents had been com- 
plicating matters by their intrigues at Matamoras. Not only did 
they offer inducements to deserters, so that it was difficult for the 
Confederates to maintain the morale of their troops, but they 
actually organized companies of soldiers and bandits, who preyed 
upon their commerce and often crossed over into Texas where they 
committed depredations. The most notorious of these bands was 
that organized by the United States consul at Matamoras under 
the leadership of Zapata, Beginning its robberies in the latter 
part of 1862, boasting of its loyalty to the Union and carrying 
the stars and stripes, this party continued to give constant trouble 
until it was dispersed by Lieutenant Santos Benavides in Septem- 
ber, 1863. This is only one example ; there were many others. 34 

To remedy these evils, and at the same time to maintain peace, 
was an extremely difficult undertaking. Nevertheless, it had to 
be done, for not only was the situation injurious to Confederate 
trade, but it furnished a constant incitation for Southern soldiers 
to cross over to the Mexican side and seize the culprits. Bee 
lodged vigorous, yet diplomatic protests with the Governor of 
Tamaulipas, and eventually (February 25, 1863) obtained an 
agreement providing for the rendition of criminals and deserters 
and the return of stolen property, together with the privilege of 
crossing the border in pursuit of marauding banditti. 35 Even this 
treaty did not work satisfactorily, owing, as Bee thought, to the 
fear of, and the friendly disposition toward the North entertained 
by the people of Tamaulipas. 36 

When at length the Northern troops occupied the left bank of 
the Bio Grande, the Confederates lost hope regarding Tamaulipas, 

"Ibid., I, XXVI, ii, 399-400, 434. 

"Ibid., I, XXVI, ii, 67-68, I, XXVI, i, 284-285, I, XV, 996. 

*>Ibid., I, XV, 197-198. 

"Ibid., I, XV, 1051, 1127-1130, 1132-1135, I, XXVI, ii, 413. 

304 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 

and Bee, anticipating the great influence of the "Yankees" in 
Matamoras, wrote Quintero to make arrangement with Vidaurri 
to have all trade pass through Monterey. Fortunately, they found 
this chief ready to grant them favors, and his city now became a 
more important center than ever for Confederate commerce and 
diplomacy. 37 

III. Confederate Relations With the Monarchical Party in 


While seeking to maintain friendly relations with, and to ob- 
tain the help of the officials in the frontier Mexican States, the 
Confederates were also- making appeals to the French party in 
Mexico. Since Louis Napoleon was their avowed friend, it was 
rather natural to expect that he might extend them aid through 
Mexico, especially if by so doing he could benefit his Mexican 
undertaking. This policy of making an appeal to monarchy was 
perhaps not altogether to their liking, but the Southerners were 
willing, if it should become necessary, to sacrifice their senti- 
ments and use their "powerful friends" in order to save them- 
selves from what they considered a "worse fate." 38 

Superviele Appeals to the Mexican Imperialists. — On January 
1, 1863, even before the fall of Puebla, Hamilton P. Bee, pur- 
suant to orders given by his superior in command, dispatched A. 
Superviele with instructions to communicate with the French 
naval officials who were supposed to be at Tampico, and to urge 
upon them the advantage of taking Matamoras. When he arrived 
at Matamoras, Superviele learned that the French had evacuated 
Tampico. He therefore took ship for Havana, reaching that des- 
tination February 3. Here he remained three weeks, during 
which time he was asked to a conference with the French consul. 
In the course of the interview Superviele assured this official that 
his mission to Mexico was prompted by friendship toward the 
French, and explained in a general way that he had in view the 
facilitation of the means of procuring mules for the French expe- 

"Ibid., I, XXVI, ii, 395-401, 567. 

"Bee to Turner, August 6, 1863. Official Records. I. XXVI, ii, 142; 
see, also A. W. Tewell [Terrell] to De Noiie in Garcia, Documentos . . . 
para la historia de Mtjico, XXXIII, 54. 

Mexican Projects of the Confederates H05 

dition, and "also the means of keeping alive their cotton manufac- 
tories, suffering greatly for the want of raw material." 

Prom Havana the Confederate agent proceeded to Vera Cruz. 
On the day of his arrival there (February 28) he had a confer- 
ence with tlie French Admiral whom he found a "great sympa- 
thizer in" the Confederate "cause, and a man well convinced of 
the importance of" his "proposals." The Admiral declared (hat 
if he were invested with the necessary power and men, he would 
not "hesitate a moment to carry out immediately an expedition 
against Matamoras," but under the circumstances it was impos- 
sible. The yellow fever was fast reducing the number of his sail- 
ors, some of the men-of-war having lost two-thirds of their crews 
already. Moreover, the best of intelligence did not exist between 
him and General Forey, the commander of the land forces, and 
he feared Forey would not understand Superviele's mission. He 
advised the Confederate agent, therefore, to seek an interview with 
De SaJigny whom the next mail from France would perhaps re- 
establish in his diplomatic powers. 

Having decided to take the admiral's advice, Superviele set out 
for the interior. Proceeding as far as Orizaba, he was forced, 
owing to general orders of non-communication, to remain there 
fifteen days. While thus detained, he was fortunate enough to 
have several interviews with A. Woll with whom he established 
"not only ordinary relations, but intimate friendship." In tak- 
ing this step Superviele said he had an eye to the future, for he 
knew that Woll had been appointed Minister of War and that he 
had been commissioned by the Emperor to organize the army of 

Having at length obtained permission, he left Orizaba on April 
10, and five days later arrived in the vicinity of Puebla, where 
he visited De Saligny at his headquarters. That dignitary was 
very cordial, and he assured Superviele that his sympathies were 
with the Confederacy, "that he himself was a Secessionist, and 
that his best friends were all engaged in the Southern cause." 
Thus encouraged, the Confederate agent explained his mission at 

I exposed to him for the first time, in detail, the importance 
acquired by the port of Matamoras since the blockade . . .; 
that the conduct of the Emperor from the beginning of onr strug- 

306 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 

gle had gained all the sympathies of our government and people; 
that we looked upon France as our natural ally; . . . that 
our government and people would give the preference to the French 
for the acquisition of our cotton; . . . that by taking pos- 
session of Matamoras they could avoid great expense by sending 
agents into the States of Coahuila and Nuevo Leon to purchase 
at low prices any quantity of mules they wanted, and, by crossing 
them on the left bank of the river, they could be driven in safety 
down to the mouth with the protection of our authorities ; . . . 
that for the supply of beeves they could have the same advan- 
tages; that as for the difficulties presented at the mouth of the 
river for the crossing of the bar, we could manage things in such 
a way that, without compromising either France or the Confed- 
eracy officially, we could ... in secrecy furnish them with 
three lighters flying Mexican colors, but, in fact, belonging to us. 

Upon being asked whether recognition was the price he ex- 
pected for these favors, Superviele refused to put the matter on 
that basis, declaring that for the moment he considered it of lit- 
tle importance, although such a step on the part of France would 
have a good moral effect. 

The question of the occupation of Matamoras was referred to 
Generals Woll and Almonte who made a report altogether favor- 
able. Forey, however, was opposed to the step until after the fall 
of Puebla and the occupation of Mexico City, whereupon he at 
last gave way. Moreover, the mail which arrived from France on 
June 2, brought a letter from the Emperor asking that the Mexi- 
can ports be taken. When Superviele set out for his Government 
near the close of the same month, therefore, he carried the assur- 
ance from Saligny that Matamoras would soon be occupied, and 
a message of friendship from Almonte to the Confederate au- 
thorities. 39 

But the promised occupation was delayed, and prospect of an 
early attack of the Federals on Brownsville, led B. Kirby Smith 
(September 2, 1863) to appeal to Slidell in France. After call- 
ing attention to the great scarcity of arms in the Trans-Missis- 
sippi Department and the danger of an early invasion on the part 
of the North, he declared that the intervention of the French 
Government alone could save Mexico from "having on its border 
a grasping, haughty, and imperious neighbor." If they ever in- 

"Official Records, I, XXVT, ii, 140-161. 

Mexican Projects of the Confederates 307 

tended to intervene, they should now take the east bank of the 
Rio Grande in order to keep open to the Confederates the only 
channel for the introduction of supplies. 40 

To carry this letter to Slidell, Superviele was again chosen. 
He was instructed first to proceed to Mexico in order to procure 
the release of certain vessels laden with arms which had been de- 
signed for the Confederacy, but which the French authorities 
thought were being imported by Juarez. If while in Mexico he 
became convinced that the admiral of the French navy was not 
unfriendly, he should "hand the letter to Mr. Slidell to him for 
perusal." In case he found that there was an official in Mexico 
with power independently to control the movements of the army, 
he was directed to show the letter to him also. Then he was to 
proceed to France. 41 

Superviele reached Paris in the latter part of December, after 
the United States forces had already taken Brownsville. Slidell 
did not answer the communication until February, when he in- 
formed Smith and Magruder, in letters dated the same day, that 
he had already obtained the release of the arms under question. 
In regard to the taking of Matamoras, he said the French gave as 
their excuse for delay the scarcity of troops. This might be true, 
he thought, but he was sure that indisposition to come into con- 
tact with Federal troops had some weight. 42 However this may 
be, Matamoras was not occupied until September, 1864. 

The Mission of Preston. — Meantime, communications had been 
taken up between the State Department of the Confederacy and 
the Mexican Imperialists. In December, 1863, a confidential agent 
of Almonte, now head of the Imperial Government in Mexico, 
called upon Quintero in Monterey and informed him that the Re- 
gent, having already suggested to Napoleon the propriety of recog- 
nizing the Confederacy, was anxiously awaiting the arrival of a 
commissioner from the South. The communication of these facts 
led Judah P. Benjamin, who had now become Secretary of State, 
to send General William Preston as Envoy Extraordinary and Min- 
ister Plenipotentiary to Mexico. He was instructed (January, 
1864) to ascertain whether he would at once be received as the 

"Ibid., I, XXII, ii, 993-994. 
"Ibid., I, XXVI, ii, 308-309. 
a lbid., I, LIU, Supplement, 960-961. 

;>08 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 

accredited ambassador of an independent government. Upon the 
arrival of Maximilian, he was to propose a treaty of alliance of 
ten years' duration for the common defense of the two govern- 
ments against the United States. A treaty of amity and com- 
merce was to be effected, also, and a free passage across Sonora 
and Chihuahua to the Pacific proposed. 4 " When the new Emperor 
arrived, howevei - , he gave no intimation of his desire to have offi- 
cial relations with the Confederacy, and Preston therefore was re- 
called. 44 

Maximilian was no doubt influenced in this course by Napoleon. 
The minister of the Juarez government at Washington, and Day- 
ton, United States minister to Paris, had kept Slidell well in- 
formed; and constant watch over, and protests against, his ac- 
tions had led the French ruler to assume an attitude of caution 
and duplicity. Consequently, the Confederate Secretary practi- 
cally despaired of Imperial aid after June, 1864. 45 

The Trans-Mississippi Department seeks an Alliance with Max- 
imilian. — But the Confederates west of the Mississippi were hard 
to discourage. They perhaps knew that neither Napoleon, nor 
Maximilian his tool, would openly recognize their government so 
long as there was a possibility of the North acquiescing in their 
Mexican occupation, but they felt that when once the French and 
Imperialists were convinced of the hostility of the United States 
of the North, they might then be led to accept the assistance of- 
fered by the Confederacy. At any rate, the Confederates were 
willing to make a last desperate appeal in the hope of saving what- 
ever they could from the wreckage of their cause and of obtaining 
homes and employment. 

In February, 1865, Smith asked Robert Rose whom he gave a 
permit to cross the border on private business, to make known 
to Maximilian his intention, in the event a catastrophe should 
befall the Confederacy, to seek refuge at the Imperial court. 
Smith suggested further, doubtless with the idea that Rose would 
use the suggestions for what they were worth, that his qualifica- 
tions and influence might be of considerable value to His Majesty's 

"Messages and papers of the confederacy, II, 611, 613. 
"Ibid., II, 628, 663, 675. 

th Ibid., Ill, 675; Pierce Butler, Judah P. Benjamin (Philadelphia, 1907), 

Mexican Projects of the Confederates 309 

government in inducing intelligent and daring soldiers of the 
South to espouse the Imperial cause in case of a collision with 
the United States of the North, or, at any rate, to colonize and 
strengthen his Empire. 16 Early in April, Slaughter turned over 
to Mejia, one of the Imperialist commanders, all the correspond- 
ence pertaining to the Lew Wallace scheme. 47 On May 2, Smith 
addressed a rather lengthy dispatch to Rose instructing him while 
disclaiming diplomatic capacity to give assurance to the Imperial 
authorities that the Confederates were willing to enter into a lib- 
eral agreement "for mutual protection from their common enemy." 
The letter went on to state that evidences from many sources clearly 
revealed that the North, looking "with jealous eyes upon the neigh- 
boring empire of Mexico," was meditating a. "blow aimed for its 
destruction," and that the assistance of the gallant troops under 
his command, some anxious to render military service in return 
for homes, others ready to "rally around any flag" promising to 
lead them to battle against their former foe, . . . would be 
of inestimable value" to the Imperial cause. 4s 

After the surrender of Lee, the Confederates of the Trans-Mis- 
sissippi Department, probably expecting that Davis would flee 
across the river, attempted to organize an army of 15,000 men 
at Marshall, Texas, for the invasion of Mexico. These plans mis- 
carried, but when Smith surrendered the department on May 26, 
1865, the Texans managed to retain their guns and considerable 
ammunition. Smith declared that they mutinied, but Sheridan 
who was sent to the scene later expressed his belief that the scheme 
had been prearranged. The Texans, thus supplied, returned home 
boasting that there would still be a day of reckoning for the North ; 
and, in the course of a few months, some three or four thousand 
of them made their way into Mexico, where they continued to 
press their case upon the Imperial authorities. 49 

There has recently come to light a somewhat daring proposal 
made by one of these refugees who had found service in the French 
army. In a letter marked confidential, but bearing no date, A. 

"Official Records, I, XL,VIIT. i, 1358-1350. 

"Oai'rfa, Documcnlos . . . para Ja historia de Mejico, XXVII, 30-38, 
68-70. 80-81, 80-87, 130-1-10. 

"Official Records, I, XLVITI, ii. 1202-1293. 
"Ibid., loc. cit.. i, 207-303, ii, 775. 

310 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 

\V. Tewell [Terrell] 50 submitted a proposal to Count Noue of 
Bazaine's staff. Before coming directly to the point, Terrell ex- 
pressed his admiration for the "flag of the great French nation" 
and intimated that he still clung to the idea of delivering the 
South. He then asked, in view of the diplomatic complications 
at that time surrounding the Mexican question and keeping him 
inactive as they had for the '"'last month," the following favors: 

1st. — Permit me publicly to dissolve my connection with the 
French army. The news of that connection has perhaps reached 
the United States, and the fact that my connection with the French 
Government has ceased to exist should be publicly known to pre- 
vent yankee suspicion of my future purposes. 

2nd. — Furnish me with six months' pay and permit me to go 
to the Capitol of Texas [where no oath will be required of me]. 
Through the Governor of that State I can obtain accurate infor- 
mation of the plans and purposes of the yankee Government at all 
times, and can obtain the earliest information of every secret fili- 
busterous enterprise intended for Mexico. 

. . . Should war begin between France and the United States 
I would be on the ground, and would fall on the right flank of 
the yankee force on the Rio Grande in 30 days with from 2 to 
4000 cavalry and open communication with your forces at Piedras 
Niegras or Monterrey. 

. . . My brigade was never surrendered but disbanded by 
me each soldier taking home an Enfield rifle and 100 rounds of 
ammunition, they were ordered by me to keep their arms concealed. 

Terrell added, in conclusion, that the enterprise he proposed 
was not in accordance with his tastes, but that he accepted it as 
the "only path of usefulness open before him," and asked that 
in case his plan met with favor, he be sent to Mexico City in or- 
der to obtain verbal instructions and to work out a system of 
cypher. 81 

The Confederate appeals to the Imperialists met with consid- 
erable encouragement. Tomas Mejia, one of the commander!; of 
the French and Mexican forces on the northern frontier, seems 
to have entered a quasi-alliance with them. December 2, 1864, 

The writer's account of his career in the army., his statement that he 
was a lawyer, and the well-known fact that Terrell went to Mexico im- 
mediately after the surrender of his department, all point to him as the 
author. The double "x" could be easily mistaken for a "w." 

"Garcia, Dooumentos . . . para la historia de MSjico, XXXIII, 

Mexican Projects of the Confederates 311 

Slaughter addressed a letter to him, the tone of which indicated 
a good understanding betwen the two officials. Mejia was assured 
that the "Confederate Government and authorities would use all 
their efforts to continue and perpetuate the most friendly rela- 
tions with the Imperial Government," and that any vessels sail- 
ing under its flag in Confederate waters would be "treated with 
every consideration." 52 Slaughter later wrote that the imperial 
commander of the port of Bagdad had informed him that 
he had private instructions to permit all the arms, ammuni- 
tion, and supplies of war the Confederates desired to be intro- 
duced and passed" — an arrangement which accorded with a private 
proposal previously made to Mejia. 53 On November 5, 1864, 
Florentine Lopez, another Imperialist commander, wrote Kirby 
Smith in order to express liberal sentiments toward the Confeder- 
acy and to ask that F. Ducayet, one of its secret agents, be given 
power to negotiate with the Empire. Smith replied that he had 
not the authority so to clothe Ducayet, but that he would forward 
the letter of Lopez to the President with strong recommendations 
in behalf of that agent." In January, 1865, Quintero was said 
to have had an interview with Marshal Bazaine, and rumors were 
abroad to the effect that bearers of dispatches from Maximilian 
through Kirby Smith to Jefferson Davis had passed simultaneously 
through Mobile, Alabama, and Jackson, Mississippi. 55 

Bazaine seems to have given the idea of a Confederate alliance 
rather careful consideration, even going so far as to ask the ad- 
vice of a member of the Belgian legation in Mexico. This official 
who responded with a note of considerable length advised great 
caution in regard to the Confederate machinations. While he did 
not think open hostilities with the United States were probable, 
nevertheless, he deemed it wise, in view of the state of excitement 
which existed in that country, not to furnish a "rallying cry for 
the popular passions." So far from giving aid to the rebels who 
when joined by Jeff. Davis are contemplating a last stand there, 
it might be wise to oppose them: for a final resistance on the 
part of the rest of the South in Texas would be a great source of 

'"House Ex. Doc, 1, 39th Cong., 1st sess., 503-504. 
■'Hbid., 504-510. 

"Official Records, I, XLVI1I, i, 1379-1380. 
"Ibid., loc. tit., ii, 307-308, 771. 

312 The Southwestern- Historical Quarterly 

danger to the Maximilian Empire. The North was gradually dis- 
arming and disbanding its troops; in six months, if matters were 
quietly allowed to take their course,, the danger will have passed. 
If, however, it should become necessary for the North to send a 
large army to the southwestern frontier, deplorable complications 
might result. He advised therefore that when the Confederates 
came across the Bio Grande, a great pretense {lujo) of neutrality 
and respect for a neighboring nation be made, and that they be 
compelled to lay down their arms. In conclusion, he recommended 
that if Davis sought refuge there, he should "be shown all 
the consideration due a great character,"' but given every encour- 
agement to proceed to Europe, "for, unfortunately, he could be in 
Mexico only a provocation, a centre of conspiracy. . . ." 56 

The advice of the Belgian official, together with the presence of 
Sheridan's "Army of Observation" on the Bio Grande, caused 
Bazaine and the Mexican Imperialists to move with considerable 
care. The organized force which Shelby conveyed across the bor- 
der was disarmed, arms which the Confederates in their retreat 
before the enemy had given to the Imperialists were apparently 
surrendered, and as late as September, 1865, Terrell's proposal re- 
mained unaccepted. The French foreign legion, however, was 
augmented by Confederate soldiers, and it was reported that 
Shelby's band had later been given service in the Imperial army, 
while another Southern officer was in Matamoras enlisting his 
friends. 57 

Proposed Confederate Colonization. — Moreover, a colonization 
scheme which the North, judging from the statements of the Con- 
federates considered hostile, was promulgated. Perhaps the most 
persistent promoter of colonization in Maximilian's empire was 
Ex-Senator William M. Gwin of California, who, although he 
wished himself to be considered a Jacksonian Democrat strongly 
opposed to secession/'* must have given considerable impetus to 
this Confederate movement into Mexico. September, 1863, found 
him in Paris, whither he had gone after a term of confinement in 

'"Garcia, Docnmentos . . . para la historia de Mejico, XXVII, 245- 

"Ibid., XXXIII, 45-49; Percv F. Martin, Maximilian in Mexico (Lon- 
don, 1914), 425; Official Records, I, XLVIII, ii. 1015, 1077, 1148-1149, 1192. 
™W, M. Gwin, Memoirs (MS. in Bancroft Library, 1878), 187, 199. 

Mexican Projects of the Confederates 313 

a Federal prison. 59 Here he soon had interviews with several men 
of state and, eventually, with the Emperor himself. He was ques- 
tioned closely concerning the development of California, the pros- 
pects for a Pacific Republic, and the possibility of settling a min- 
ing population in the North Mexican States. As a result of these 
conferences, Gwin left France for Mexico in the early summer of 
1864, "fortified," as he thought, "by the whole power of the French 
Government and the Mexican Imperial Government about to he 
established, and by direct orders to the French general in Mexico, 
to give him what military aid he might require to lay the founda- 
tion" of a colony embracing Eastern Sonora. and Western Chi- 

The plan for such a colony had been carefully devised, and con- 
tained, in brief, the following provisions: 

1. The territory of the proposed settlement was to be erected 
into a department governed by military and municipal law. 

3. All unoccupied agricultural lands were to be open to immi- 
grants, and each occupant should receive one hundred and sixty 
acres of land for two years' residence and the payment of $1.25 
per acre. 

3. A seignorage of six per cent of the gross proceeds of all gold 
and silver mines was to he paid in bullion into the imperial treas- 
ury, and the necessary assay offices were to be established. 

4. The French government was to furnish competent military 
protection to immigrants coming to the colony, and a Director- 
in-chief of Colonization was to be appointed by the Emperor. 61 

Gwin's comments on his project indicate that he expected im- 
migrants largely from the mining regions of the United States 
and British Columbia, while he hoped they would be augmented 
ultimately by emigration from France, Germany, Spain and South 
America.' 12 The Emperor Napoleon advised him to "abstain from 

'"Daily Alia California, November 17 and 23, 1861; San Francisco 
Herald. November IS and 23, 1861; Overland Monthly, second series, XVIT, 
499. For Gwin's political career the writer is indebted to Miss Helen 
Blattnor who has written a Master's thesis on this subject at the Uni- 
versity of California. 

""Billow. Retrospections of an active life (N. Y.. 1910-1913), II, 190; 
Gwin, Memoirs, 224. 

'"•'Plan of Colonization in Sonora and Chihuahua," in Overland Monthly, 
second series, XVII, 502. 

"-Xotcs Explanatory of the Plan of Colonization in Sonora and Chi- 
huahua, loe. cit., XVII, 503-505. 

314 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 

all connection with the Civil War in the United States" and to 
show no partiality to citizens of one section or the other. 63 Nev- 
ertheless, the plan was interpreted as purely Confederate not only 
by the Eichmond Government itself, but by the United States 
Government and the Mexican minister at Washington. 

June 2, 1864, Slidell, the Confederate ambassador at Paris, 
who had been associated with Gwin during his presence there, 64 
wrote Judah P. Benjamin that Gwin was on the way to Mexico 
where he intended to colonize Sonora with persons of southern 
birth or sympathies, and that he thought the project would, if 
carried out, be beneficial to the Confederacy. 85 During the same 
month Preston wrote Jefferson Davis from Havana to the effect 
that Gwin was very anxious to secure friendly relations between 
Mexico and the Confederacy, since his scheme depended upon the 
emigration of southern men from California. Accordingly, Gwin 
was expected to get Maximilian to recognize the Southern Govern- 
ment. 66 

On July 8, 1865, the Mexican Minister, Eomero, enclosed to 
Seward letters and newspaper clippings which the former consid- 
ered as plainly showing that the project proposed to "take to the 
frontier of Mexico all the discontented citizens of the United 
States living in the South, with the design of organizing them 
under the protection and with the assistance of France." Of these 
documents only a clipping from the New Orleans Times need con- 
cern us here. It was written by a correspondent who seemed not 
to be in sympathy with the Gwin project, but who, nevertheless, 
thought there was no doubt that it would succeed. "He [Gwin] 
goes out," the writer declares, "as director general of immigration 
from Sonora, Chihuahua, Durango, and Tamaulipas, with extra- 
ordinary powers and eight thousand French troops to back him. 
The emigration is to be strictly Southern, or Confederate. Ten 
thousand confederates are to be armed and paid by the empire, 
but kept in the above-mentioned states as protection to the emi- 
grants. Strategical points are to be fortified and garrisoned on 
the frontier. Dr. Gwin's son has applied for and will get an ex- 

"Gwin, Memoirs, 224. 

"Ibid., 201. 

65 John Bigelow, Retrospections of an active life, II, 190. 

"Ibid., II, 197-198. 

Mexican Projects of the Confederates 315 

elusive privilege for all the railroads in Sonora. The southerners 
are elate and golden visions float before them." Indeed they 
"seriously proclaim" that the empire will be saved by the emigra- 
tion of their comrades who will "rally by thousands at the call of 
Gwin, and raise an impassible bulwark against American aggres- 
sion." 67 

Such were the opinions concerning Gwin's plan. It is unneces- 
sary to relate the delays and anxieties through which he passed 
during 1864 and 1865. Gwin's ship like many others was shat- 
tered upon the rock of Mexican prejudice against foreigners. 68 
By July, 1865, he had given up all hope of success and asked for 
an escort out of Mexico. He desired to leave via the Eio Grande 
in order, as he said, to warn the Confederates who had become in- 
terested in this scheme not to enter Mexico. 69 

The Southerners, however, were not easily baffled. Gwin had 
scarcely gotten safely out of Mexico when they entered enthusi- 
astically into another project destined to prove but little more suc- 
cessful than that championed by the California Ex- Senator. On 
October 10, 1865, Romero transmitted to Seward extracts from 
the Mexico Times , a paper published in English in Mexico City. 
These, he declared, showed that Maximilian had thrown aside "all 
dissimulation" by making public his plans for colonizing Mexico 
with discontented citizens of the United States. As agents of 
Colonization such prominent Confederates as Ex-Governor Sterling 
Price of Missouri, Judge John Perkins of Louisiana, Ex-Governor 
Isham G. Harris of Tennessee, and W. T. Hardeman and Roberts 
of Texas had been chosen. M. P. Maury, Ex-Lieutenant of the 
United States navy and later a Confederate commissioner to 
Europe, had been chosen as Commissioner of Immigration. 

The Mexico Times was the organ of the project. Speaking 
through its columns on September 23, the promoters stated that 
two of their agents had proceeded to C6rdova and the region bor- 
dering on the tierra Calient e, while the other two had set out for 
Tepic and the country bordering on the Pacific. They urged 

"House Ex. Doc, 1, 39th Cong., 1st sess., 517. 

"Gwin, Memoirs, 246-248. The knowledge that the United States looked 
with disfavor upon Gwin's project may have had some influence. See 
Bigelow, op. cit., Ill, 122. 

""Gwin, Memoirs, 246. 

316 The Southwestern- Historical Quarterly 

patience on the part of their friends, promising them that in a 
short time the whole country would lie out before them, where 
they might be as free to choose as Lot when Abraham sought to 
conciliate him ! 

The following week this same paper gave a list of more than 
a hundred prominent Confederates who had recently arrived in 
Mexico City, and reported rumors to the effect that Sterling Price 
had "taken service under Maximilian*' with authority to "recruit 
a cavalry force of thirty thousand men from the late Confederate 
army," and that "other prominent rebels had received kind favors 
from the Emperor, whose intentions arc to collect a force of at 
least one hundred thousand rebels in less than one year in order 
to face General Sheridan on the Rio Grande." 70 

Early in the following month (November) Romero sent Seward 
five decrees of Maximilian which shed considerable light upon the 
matter. Maury had been made not only Commissioner of Colon- 
ization, but also Counsellor of State, while J. B. Magruder had 
been named Chief of the Colonization land office with an annual 
salary of $3,000. The nature of the colonization was confirmed 
by the fact that while Maury was authorized to establish agencies 
in Virginia, North and South Carolina, Texas, Missouri, Alabama, 
Louisiana and California, nothing was said about the northern 
states. 71 

Novcmher 12, 1865, Agent Harris wrote from Cordova to G. 
W. Adair, of Atlanta, Georgia, that Maximilian, after having pub- 
lished a decree (September 5, 1865) opening all Mexico to col- 
onization, had asked certain Confederates to prepare regulations 
to accompany the decree and that they had complied with the re- 
quest. He spoke very highly of the prospects for coffee growing 
in that section and stated that about thirty of his friends were 
present ready to commence the work of settlement. 72 

During the month of December Maury published an offer of 
350,000 acres of land to Confederates at prices ranging from 
$1.00 to $1.75 per acre. He published, also, an extensive address 
to all persons wishing to settle in Mexico. Tn the letter, he stated 

™House Ex. Doc, 1, 39th Conjr., 1st sess., 522-525. 

"Romero to Seward, November 4. 1805. Ibid., 52ti-V2,l . 

72 Hou,ie Ex. Doc, 1. 39th Cong.. 1st sess.. 528-530. It was the opinion 
of Attorney General Speed that the Colonization decrees of Maximilian 
were designed to establish a certain form of slaverv. Ibid.. 477-479. 

Mexican Projects of the Confederates 317 

that gentlemen representing many thousand families in Europe 
and hundreds from the Southern States were "anxiously seeking 
information in regard to the country . . . with the view of 
making it their home." Generals Price, Shelby, and Harris were 
intending to settle at Cordova; Generals Hardeman and Terry, 
with others from Texas, were negotiating for the purchase of 
haciendas in Jalisco. Reverend Mitchell of Missouri had "already 
commenced a fine settlement on the Rio Verde, in San Luis 
Potosi." 73 

Such was the auspicious beginning, but the whole grand scheme 
was destined to collapse. The Federal commanders in California 
and Texas rigidly guarded immigration ; Terry and his Texans 
failed to put the Jaliscan deal through ; 74 and the little settle- 
ment founded at Carlotta, near Cordova, became involved in diffi- 
culties which led to its destruction by the Liberalist forces. 75 The 
Nevj York Tribune of June 22, I860, reported that Price, Harris, 
and Perkins were preparing to return to the United States. 78 
How long Magruder and Maury basked in the imperial light it is 
impossible to say. Certainly not more than a few months. 77 No- 
vember 4, 1870, United States Minister to Mexico, Thomas H. 
Nelson, wrote to the Secretary of State that the "large number 
of citizens of the Southern States of the Union who came to Mex- 
ico immediately after the rebellion' had "almost all returned to 
the United States," and there was not, at the time of writing, "a 
single notability remaining out of the many Confederate refu- 
gees." 78 

"libid., 531-555. 

74 A. E. Waggner, Life of David Terry (iSan Francisco, 1892), 230 et 
seq.; Official Records, I, XLVIII, i, 297-303; Documentos . . . para 
la historic de Me'jico, XXVII, 96-97. 

"House Ex. Doc, 1, Part III, 39tli Cong., 1st sess., 214-215. 


"Maximilian was executed June ]<9, 1806. 

n V. 8. Docs., Foreign Relations, 1870, 295.